The NFL offseason is starting to heat up, as we’re starting to see some notable trades finalized for official processing on March 18th.
Earlier this week, the Jacksonville Jaguars agreed in principle to send cornerback A.J. Bouye to the Denver Broncos for a 2020 fourth-round pick, as Jacksonville continues dismantling a defense that nearly led them to a Super Bowl appearance a mere three seasons ago.
In bigger news, the Los Angeles Chargers and Carolina Panthers are swapping offensive linemen. Former Seattle Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung is headed to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for guard Trai Turner. It’s not very often you see that sort of trade in the NFL.
Okung’s contract is expiring after 2020, in which his base salary is $13 million. Turner signed a four-year, $45 million contract extension with the Panthers back in 2017. While Okung is a two-time Pro Bowl selection, Turner has made it five consecutive seasons and counting. Are Pro Bowls a great barometer for how good a player actually is? Not really. What I do know is that Turner is five years younger than Okung.
One of the knocks on Okung during his time in Seattle was that he could not stay consistently healthy. Not once did he play a full season in his six seasons with the Seahawks, so naturally when he signed with the Denver Broncos he played all 16 games. His subsequent two seasons with the Los Angeles Chargers saw him play in 30 of 32 regular season games and make the Pro Bowl in 2017. Unfortunately, he only appeared in six games in 2019 after suffering a pulmonary embolism, which can potentially be fatal.
Carolina doesn’t seem keen on paying Turner’s $11 million salary in 2021, so that means that if Okung isn’t worth re-signing for them after this season, neither one of those players will be on their books in the next offseason. The Panthers have at least a potential solution for their ongoing left tackle woes, if only in the short-term.
As for the Chargers, even if Turner hasn’t necessarily played as well as the Pro Bowl honors have suggested in recent years, he’s surely a better right guard than Michael Schofield (a free agent who’s unlikely to be re-signed).
So before the free agent frenzy begins for offensive linemen, Carolina and Los Angeles kicked things off with a significant deal.